Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) donated more than $1800 to United Service Organizations (USO) Guam, during an extended visit to Guam in the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
Arriving to Guam March 27, the Roosevelt Strike Group staff worked closely with Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Joint Region Marianas, U.S. Naval Hospital Guam, Naval Base Guam and the Government of Guam in order to isolate and quarantine the crew of Theodore Roosevelt in phases, in accordance with recommended Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standards.
The USO was there to provide support to them from the beginning.
“We strongly believe that our U.S. military is a force for good in this world,” stated Leigh L. Graham, USO Guam Area Director. “As service members, their mission is an important one and war fighting and the defense of our country has to be on the very top of their minds. For this reason, our Commander in Chief of 78 years ago, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, established the USO through Congress and separate from the Department of Defense, so Americans could show support for the morale of our service members while they maintain their focus on the defense of our country.”
What started as a fun way to commemorate a unique experience during a very exceptional deployment, designing ‘deployment t-shirts’ quickly became the way a large group of Theodore Roosevelt Sailors chose to thank USO Guam’s local team.
“The Sailors recognized the tremendous support being provided by Naval Base Guam and those all around the island, and were specifically awestruck by how selflessly the men and women of the USO dedicated themselves to the TR Sailors each day during our unexpected stay,” said Lt. Cmdr. Ryan Yonkman, the maintenance officer of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron EIGHT (HSC-8) “Eightballers,” and an isolation location Officer in Charge (OIC). “We unanimously agreed to donate all proceeds to USO Guam for all the amazing care and support they have provided for the TR’s crew.”
“Once the Sailors knew the project would benefit the local USO, the response and support was overwhelming.”
“It was so incredible,” exclaimed Graham, when she learned of the donation. “We are unbelievably moved and humbled by this!”
“The Sailors of USS Theodore Roosevelt have become part of the USO Guam family,” Graham continued. “You and your crew are now forever part of our history, and a part of the fabric that makes us who we are. We will never forget your stay here on the Island and the sense of purpose you brought to us in being able to support Sailors in the greatest Navy on the planet!”
“None of us expected a deployment to look like this,” said Yonkman. “But the Sailors of Theodore Roosevelt demonstrated incredible resiliency and resolve during an unprecedented period. Over the course of my time as an OIC in Guam, I realized how incredible it was that many of the almost 900 Sailors with me had never seen each other or met each other, let alone worked together, yet they seamlessly came together during a difficult time to take care of one another and support their shipmates on and off the ship. The island of Guam and the USO were integral to that mission.”
“Thank you so much for this generous gift,” said Graham. “We promise to use it in a way that honors the ‘Big Stick’, by continuing to connect service members with family, home and country throughout their service to our nation.”
“When the TR departs, you will take a part of our hearts with you, but when you return, we will likewise be looking forward to seeing you again.”
“Whether they realized it or not, all of the TR Sailors benefited in some way from the actions of USO Guam’s family. We were just trying to give a little back to a team that gave so much,” said Yonkman. “Thanks again for your tireless efforts and incredible support.until everyone comes home!”
Theodore Roosevelt is the nation’s fourth Nimitz-class aircraft carrier with a crew of 5,000 Sailors who support and conduct air operations at sea. Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment, Jan. 17.
For more information on USS Theodore Roosevelt, visit